Brand awareness can be defined as how familiar a brand’s target audience is with its image and qualities. It means that consumers know a brand’s unique selling points and can distinguish them from other market brands.
However, unless you’re running a large conglomerate that has already been in the market for quite some time, it’s not easy to establish and boost brand awareness. In a small business, their brand awareness level may not reach that of a large company, but they can still use creative techniques to gain brand loyalty and recognition. In today’s dynamic and ever-evolving market, small businesses need to find innovative ways to increase awareness as well as boost their market share.
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In this article, we will look at:
1) The importance of brand awareness
2) Ways to build brand awareness
The importance of brand awareness
Before we dive into the different ways that small businesses can increase their brand awareness, we need to understand why it’s important.
1) Build trust with the target audience
Brand awareness builds trust between a brand and its audience. When consumers trust the brand, they will continue to buy products from there and are also more likely to tell others about the business. Word-of-mouth marketing should not be overlooked because it helps a brand to reach wider audiences. Because of a shift in consumer behaviour, consumers tend to research a product or service before investing in it. Regardless of how and where a recommendation comes from, having a good reputation helps companies build their brand awareness.
2) Creates associations
Just as an example, when people need to find an answer to a question, they say, “I’ll just Google it.” Similarly when they have a paper cut, they say they need a Band-Aid. As you can see, brands which become household names are also as verbs or nouns. Good brand awareness efforts subconsciously encourage people to replace common words with branded terms. If a business wants to create an association between their product or brand and specific actions, then building brand awareness is the way to go.
3) Builds brand equity
Brand equity is the value of a brand, as determined by the overall perception of a brand and consumer experiences. Positive experiences and perception generate positive brand equity. The benefits of positive brand equity include:
- Higher prices due to higher perceived value.
- A higher stock price.
- The ability to expand business through product or service line extensions.
- More significant social impact due to brand name value.
Brand awareness is the foundation of brand equity. When you build brand awareness and consistently promote positive experiences with a brand, consumers start to recognize the brand. Once the brand is top of mind, it’s only a matter of time before the consumer makes a purchase, and then develops a preference for this brand over other brands in the market. Eventually, this positive domino effect turns your customers into brand ambassadors who bring in new customers.
Ways to build brand awareness
1) Review current branding strategies
The first step for a business of any size to increase brand awareness involves reviewing their current branding strategies. They need to check the different branding strategies they are already using and evaluate them to determine their strengths and weaknesses. This evaluation should include should include areas such as internal branding, external branding, and customer experience. Internally, they need to consider their company’s mission, brand values, and company culture. Externally, they need to be aware of their current business logo, website, social media platforms, content marketing, and other marketing materials. Finally, they should consider their current customer experience, including their sales process and customer support, and customer service policies.
2) Understand company goals
To create an effective plan to increase brand awareness, companies need first to understand their company goals. By understanding the goals beforehand, businesses can quickly outline the objectives and aims of their branding campaign. It also makes it easier for companies to measure the success of their marketing efforts. Ultimately, the goal of any brand awareness campaign is to help companies meet their primary objectives.
3) Determine the competitive advantage
In an overly saturated market, any competitive advantage that a company has will allow them to stand out from the crowd. To figure out their competitive advantage, they need to know why potential consumers would buy their product or service instead of a similar product from a competitor. By understanding this, companies can generate higher margins compared to their competitors in the market.
Rather than solely focusing on price when trying to determine a company’s competitive edge, they should also consider the personality of their brand. This includes characteristics, behaviours, and actions that set them apart. Some examples include high quality, good reputation, customer service, trust/relationships, innovation, consistency, speed of implementation, resource base, and customer results.
4) Decide key messaging
Whether it is an initial brand awareness campaign or a rebranding one, the next step is to decide its key messaging. This key messaging tells a brand’s story and brings a brand to life in a compelling way. This is also the messaging companies will consistently use across their communication channels.
5) Create a company personality
To gain success in a brand awareness campaign, companies need to create a unique brand personality. It is essential to project the essence of an individual rather than an entire company. At a time when consumers care more about human-to-human communication, companies need to ditch the corporate image and focus more on humanizing their brand by giving it a face. Once companies determine the type of personality they want their brand to have, they need to make sure that the same personality is being portrayed across all marketing channels to maintain brand consistency.
6) Combine content marketing with PR
One of the best ways to increase brand awareness is by making a name online with quality content in the current digital landscape. Content marketing focuses primarily on creating and distributing content to attract and retain a company’s target audience. The main idea is to deliver engaging content which is created with a target audience in mind. This can include text-based content, and video content, as well as other assets that provide a solution to consumers’ problems.
7) Build a solid social media presence
To build a strong awareness of a brand, companies need to engage directly with their target audience. The best way to do that is to build an active social media presence. Simply posting content online and logging out is not enough. Rather, brands need to go out of their way to interact with their audience. They can do this by asking questions, commenting on their posts, and generally having meaningful conversations. Additionally, they should also encourage user-generated content through contests and giveaways. This gives audiences incentive to produce and share content related to a brand. Finally, they can encourage employees to share branded content on their personal social media channels, thus helping the brand to reach a wider audience.
8) Collaborate with other businesses/influencers
Collaborative branding has also become an extremely productive way of promoting small businesses. By establishing co-branding partnerships and working with influencers, a company’s reach increases to audiences which they may not have been able to reach in the past. By reaching their partners’ audiences, they can also grow their own business. Ultimately, building a mutually-beneficial relationship with an influencer helps boost brand awareness.
9) Launch a referral program
As mentioned previously, when consumers have a positive experience with a brand, they are very likely to use word-of-mouth marketing to spread the word about a product or service. Launching a referral program not only retains your happy customers but also offers them an incentive to tell their friends and family about products or services. This tactic is the perfect way for companies to boost their brand awareness and even sales on a minimal budget.
10) Measure brand success
Brand awareness can’t be measured in a traditional sense. However, companies can still review their activities and metrics to gauge their brand in terms of popularity and consumer awareness. By considering both quantitative and qualitative performance, companies can paint the overall picture of their brand awareness.
Through quantitative measures like direct traffic, site traffic numbers, and social engagement, companies can visualize how the brand is being perceived. Direct traffic is the result of people intentionally typing in a company’s URL and visiting the site. This number tells companies how effective their marketing and PR efforts are at driving consumers to a company’s website. Secondly, site traffic numbers reflect how much of the general online population is looking at a company’s content and spending time with the brand. Finally, social engagement refers to the follows, likes, retweets, and comments that a company obtains through their social media platforms. It reflects how impactful their content is and how many people are aware of the brand.
Qualitative brand awareness measures include monitoring online conversations in the industry to see how a brand is being discussed online. By engaging in this kind of social listening, companies can see who is tagging their brand. Mentioning it in comments, and using the company’s hashtags in their posts.
Remember that quantitative and qualitative metrics will help companies under the level of brand awareness they are generating. While the outcome is never perfect, the brand’s performance should help them understand what aspects of their campaigns need tweaking.
Brand awareness is a powerful concept that significantly impacts a company’s marketing efforts, consumer perception, and revenue. While each company should have a unique strategy for building brand awareness, the techniques discussed in this article will help small business build a loyal audience that will choose the brand over its competition, over and over again.